The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
Pacing, it’s kind of a dirty word used to describe the music of post rock bands and indie cinema. It’s rarely used in the same context of that other dirty word…emo. Usually, with this type of music, one expects spider-webbed guitars and sung-scream vocals, emoting about girls and graduation.
Surprise, Brand New is emo…or they use to be. Their new album is something completely different. They pretty much ditched the blitzkrieg punk of Your Favorite Weapon when they stunned us with the absurdly fine Deja Entendu. But that had “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” a firecracker of an anthem. You won’t find anything like that on The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. The closest thing to a hook doesn’t show up until near the end. It matters not.
The disc is full of forest fires. They just take a little while to get there. That and a lot of fuel, which the band pours onto the flames with gusto. Take the tense starter “Sowing Season (Yeah)” which is clean and cold at first, a bout of frostbite, until a swath of guitar severs the song at the one-minute mark. The song continues, reminiscent of The Arcade Fire in the build up and more like Cursive in the crackling moments. “Millstone” maintains the atmosphere and is likewise a nail-biter. The disc is full of these instances. Pent up energy then piss and vinegar. It’s not soothing in the least, but man is it satisfying.
It’s just too expansive to talk about each highlight because the disc is brimming with them. However, “Jesus Christ” is a nearly pitch-perfect ballad. The only slack is at the end when it seems to begin again. Why not leave us with the brilliant lyric “We all got wood and nails and we sleep inside of this machine” and the fade out? “Degausser” is shattered and slick, the best track bar friggin’ none. When the mini-choir enters, it’s like a Sufjans Stevens song hopped up and laying in the wreckage of a car. “Limousine” also a stunner, pulses and stutters until it bursts and blooms. “Welcome to Bangkok” feels like filler but is actually quite fulfilling when digested with the rest of the album. “Archers” and “Handcuffs” round out the disc nicely, “Archers” crisp and urgent, even poppy, and the string-flecked “Handcuffs” playing the quiet card again, albeit with aplomb.
Is it even necessary to mention the lyrics. Is the band really talking spiritual warfare? Probably not. Who cares? Lacey strings together some astounding lines. And in the end, the words sync with the music and, well, it’s just gripping stuff. Another vocabulary word that Brand New has learned and practices, gripping. Absolutely gripping.
Thursday, November 23, 2006